Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Before "Blacknuss", Rahsaan Roland Kirk was already exploring ways to fuse soul and R&B with jazz. "Volunteered Slavery", with its beat/African chanted poetry and post-bop blues ethos was certainly a strike in the right direction. With a band that included Charles McGhee on trumpet, Dick Griffin on trombone, organist Mickey Tucker, bassist Vernon Martin, drummers Jimmy Hopps and Charles Grady, as well as Sony Brown, Kirk made it work.
Rolling Stone (3/7/70, p.48) - "...[ROLAND KIRK] is one of the absolute best jazz musicians in the world, as good as the best on all the axes he plays....[he's] got an amazing sense of humor in everything he does..."
Personnel: Rahsaan Roland Kirk (vocals, tenor saxophone, flute, nose flute, whistle, manzello, stritch, gong); Charles McGhee (trumpet); Dick Griffin (trombone); Ron Burton (piano); Vernon Martin (bass); Charles Crosby, Sonny
Brown, Jimmy Hopps (drums); Roland Kirk Spirit Choir.
Recorded at Regent Sound Studios, New York, New York in 1969 and The Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, Rhode Island on July 7, 1968. Originally released on Atlantic (1534).
This classic album of from 1969 shows Kirk inventing an early form of Afro-bop fusion, dismantling and rebuilding hit songs of the day like "I Say a Little Prayer" and "Ma Cherie Amour."
Personnel: Roland Kirk (vocals, flute, whistle, stritch, manzello, tenor saxophone, gong); Charles McGhee (trumpet); Dick Griffin (trombone); Ron Burton (piano); Roland Kirk Spirit Choir (background vocals).
Audio Remasterer: Giovanni Scatola.
Audio Remixer: William Arlt.
Liner Note Author: Kevin Le Gendre.
Recording information: Newport Jazz Festival (1968); Regent Sound Studios, NY (1968).
One of Roland Kirk's very best albums, 1969's VOLUNTEERED SLAVERY is a half-studio, half-live smorgasbord that comes closer than possibly any of his dozens of other releases to capturing all of his many musical sides. Opening with the classic call-and-response soul jazz title track, side one features two brilliant pop covers, Stevie Wonder's "Ma Cherie Amour" and a scorching reinterpretation of Bacharach-David's "I Say a Little Prayer," reworked into a eulogy for the recently slain Bobby Kennedy. Between those two comes the brief but stirring "Search for the Reason Why," a gospel-tinged hippiesque singalong that in lesser hands might sound drippy. Side two, recorded at 1968's Newport Jazz Festival, is built around the brilliant "Tribute to John Coltrane," a three-song medley that pays tribute without imitation, and the legendary "Three for the Festival," Kirk's wild yet controlled solo played simultaneously on three different reed instruments. This is a jazz classic.